The 10 Best Game 7's in World Series History

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Since the World Series permanently moved to a best of 7, there have been 33 Game Sevens (there were two determinative game sevens prior; edit, now it's 34 game sevens plus the two prior) which I'd argue is the height of human endeavor.  If it seems like its been awhile since we've had one (2002, although I can't recall how that turned out) you're right.  The last 8 game World Series was 1921, so since the permanent switch to a best 4 of 7 in 1922, this current 9 year span since we've had a Game 7 is the longest ever.

I don't know if that's Wild Card related, but if you broaden our look, it might be.  In the 17 years since the Wild Card, there have been 3 Game 7s (02, 01, 97).  In the 17 years previous, there were 6.

The Cardinals have been in 10 of those Game 7s, almost a third.  At 7-3, they've got the most Game 7 wins of any team in baseball history.

Here are the Top 10 Game Sevens in World Series History.

10. 1955 Dodgers 2 Yankees 0

-This is the first title for the Dodgers; Brooklyn had lost the Series in '16, '20, '41, '47, '49, '52, and '53.

The Dodgers were up 2-0 through 6, then withstood the Yanks getting 2 on with one out and Berra/Sauer at the plate; defensive replacement Sandy Amoros robbing Berra's seemingly game tying line drive to the left field corner (at 5:29)

9. 1975 Reds 4 Red Sox 3

-The famous game is Fisk's the night before, but the Sox took a 3-0 lead into the 6th in Game 7 giving them a win expectancy of 85%.  Perez hit a two run homer in the 6th, then the Reds tied it in the 7th and had the bases loaded for Bench who fouled out.  Morgan singled home Griffey in the 9th (at 14:15)to give the Reds the lead, and the Sox went down in order in the bottom half.  Boston didn't get a hit after the fifth.

8. 1925 Pirates 9 Senators 7

-The greatest pitcher who ever lived was staked to a 4-0 lead and threw a complete game.  But it was a complete game loss in which he (he is the Train, Walter Johnson, then 37 years old) gave up 15 hits.  Still, Johnson was 4 outs away from the title, with no one on, 2 out, and a 7-6 lead in the bottom of the 8th when three doubles beat him.

7. 1946 Cardinals 4 Red Sox 3

-This is Slaughter's mad dash; Enos Slaughter scoring from first on Harry Walker's line drive base hit to center with two outs to break the 3-3 8th inning tie.  The Sox had just tied it with two in the top on a Dom Dimaggio two run double.  Boston put the first two on in the bottom of the 9th but couldn't plate the tie.

6. 1962 Yankees 1 Giants 0

-Richardson catches McCovey's liner at 7:45.  It's the best San Francisco Giants team of all time; we didn't get a hit until the 6th, with Mays and Alou both in scoring position with two out in the bottom of the 9th, McCovey's lineout ended it.  40 years later, we lost another game 7.  It wasn't until 2010 that San Francisco won its first World Series.  I've written about this game, and the entire history of the San Francisco Giants in the World Series, more extensively here.

5. 1991 Twins d. Braves
-The first extra innings game on the list; the Twins breaking a scoreless tie in the 10th with a Gene Larkin single (you can see it at 6:50). How many chances did both teams have to get on the board?  The Braves had a runner in scoring position with one out in the second.  The Twins had two on and one out in the second.  The Braves had two on, one out in the third.  The Twins had a runner at third with two out and Puckett at the plate in the third.  The Braves had a runner in scoring position in the 4th.  The Braves had them on the corners with one out and Pendleton/Gant coming up in the 5th.  The Braves opened the 8th with a Lonnie Smith single/Pendleton double, and then had the bases loaded with one out, but Jack Morris got a Sid Bream double play to end the threat.  The reverse in the bottom - John Smoltz gave up two singles and got pulled for Mike Stanton, who got a bases loaded double play from Hrbek to end the inning.  The Twins had them again an inning later, back to back singles to open the inning took a double play and then a Paul Sorrento strikeout with the winning run at third to get into extras.

And none of those runs scored.

In the tenth - Gladden opened with a double, took third on a groundout, and a couple of intentional walks later was the Larkin game winner.

4. 1997 Marlins 3 Indians 2

Another extra innings game; up 2-1 in the top of the 9th, with 1st and 3rd and just one out, the Indians had an 89% win expectancy.  Sandy Alomar got thrown out at the plate on a Marquis Grissom ground ball to short, and a Brian Giles flyout ended the inning.    Singles by Alou/Johnson and a Craig Counsell sac fly tied the game in the bottom of the 9th.  The Marlins had the winning run at second in the 10th with one out but didn't score; that waited for the following inning.  In the bottom of the 11th the Marlins loaded the bases (Bonilla single, an error, an intentional walk) with one out, Charles Nagy, who got out of the jam the previous inning, got a groundball that forced Bonilla at home for a second out.  Edgar Renteria, who 13 years later would be a World Series MVP for the Giants, won the game with a base hit that you can see at 3:33.

3. 1924 Senators 4 Giants 3

The greatest pitcher who ever lived, Walter Johnson, in the twilight of his career and playing in his first World Series, pitched the last 4 innings of a 12 inning game 7; the Senators scoring 3 runs, including the game winner, on two separate bad bounce ground balls.  There were 7 combined errors; my guess (I don't know the answer) is that's a game 7 record.  The Giants had a two run lead with 4 outs to go, reaching an 89% win expectancy, when the first of those bad hops scored two in the 8th.  Frankie Frisch tripled off the entering Johnson in the 9th, but the Giants left them on the corners.  The Senators had them on the corners with one out in the bottom, but a Ralph Miller double play ended the inning.  Frisch faced Johnson again with the potential winning run at second and one out in the 11th, but struckout, and a second strikeout got the Senators out of the inning.  Washington had the winning run in scoring position themselves in the bottom, but didn't score.  In the bottom of the 12th a botched foul popup to catcher led to a Muddy Ruel double and with two on and one out, what appeared to be an inning ending Earl McNeely double play ball bad hopped into the game winning hit.

2. 2001 Diamondbacks d. Yankees

Only once has a team entered the bottom of the 9th losing and exited it with a World Championship.

It was 2001.  It was November.  And it Mariano Rivera was on the mound.

You can see the entire bottom of the 9th here. The two starting pitchers, Clemens and Schilling, combined for 19 strikeouts and only one walk.  Soriano homered in the 8th to break a 1-1 tie and when Rivera struck out the side in the bottom, the Yankees were at 80% win expectancy, but presumably felt more likely than that given the context.  Mark Grace led off the bottom of the 9th with a single, a Rivera error put two on, but an unsuccessful bunt attempt forced the lead runner. Tony Womack doubled home the tying run, and after a hit batsman, Luis Gonzalez singled home the win.  Had the Yankees held on, the connection between this game and 9-11 would probably have marked it as the ultimate American sporting event, with only perhaps the 1980 hockey win over the Soviets to contend in our national consciousness.

1. 1960 Pirates d. Yankees

The game highlights are here.

The Pirates scored two in each of the first two innings giving them an 89% win expectancy.

The Yankees scored the next 7 runs.  They ended their half of the 8th with a 7-4 lead, 6 outs away from a title, and a 94% win expectancy.

The Pirates scored 5 in the bottom of the 8th after what looked to be an easy double play ground ball bad hopped into Tony Kubek's throat.  When Hal Smith hit a three run homer to give the Pirates a 9-7 lead, the win expectancy swung all the way back to 93% for Pittsburgh.

But New York came back again.  Singles by Richardson/Long/Mantle cut the lead to one run and a Berra groundout tied the game at 9.

Two years later, Ralph Terry shut out the Giants in a Game 7, but in 1960, he gave up a leadoff homer to Bill Mazeroski for the only Game 7 walkoff home run in World Series history.

1 comment

Blog said...

I guess you don't have to worry about updating this list.

Congratulations to another triumph of the human spirit over sabermetrics!

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